The new legislative session that opened on Jan. 14 in New Jersey marked the start of the next phase of NJEA’s fight for job justice for educational support professionals (ESPs) and Ch. 78 relief.
“When the campaign began nearly 17 months ago, two things were certain: it would be a long, difficult fight, and it would be won through the power of collective member action,” NJEA’s officers, President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty wrote in an all-member email on the first day of the new legislative session.
Both of those things have been proven true.
When association members worked together to gather over 116,000 members’ signatures on petitions, it demonstrated that NJEA members are passionate about Ch. 78 relief and ESP Job Justice. It was demonstrated further through the thousands of phone calls, the tens of thousands of postcards and emails, the hundreds of meetings with legislators in Trenton and their home offices, and the hundreds of public demonstrations of support in which members engaged over those 17 months.
Members got results. At the start of the
campaign, the ESP Job Justice and Ch. 78 relief bills had just one or two sponsors each, but member action built support until the Ch. 78 bill had 47 co-sponsors in Assembly—more than the number needed for passage. The same bill in the Senate had 17 sponsors, just short of the number needed to pass that chamber. The subcontracting and due-process ESP bills passed the Assembly in May with overwhelming bipartisan support, while those bills had 18 and 17 Senate sponsors, respectively. That level of support is the result of ceaseless member engagement and action.
Through all of this, Gov. Phil Murphy has been a steadfast supporter, including the release of television and online advertising explaining his support for ESP Job Justice and Ch. 78 relief. They can be viewed here and here.
The beginning of a new session means that NJEA members will rebuild sponsor support as Ch. 78 and ESP Job Justice legislation is re-introduced. NJEA leaders will push for these bills to be introduced quickly, and the association will waste no time in making sure that every former sponsor signs on again as NJEA members continue to push every other legislator to become a sponsor as well.
NJEA’s momentum remains strong and our determination continues to grow as the new legislative session gets underway. On Jan. 4, NJEA’s Delegate Assembly approved up to $25 million in the current association budget to fund the ESP Job Justice and Ch. 78 relief campaign, along with other efforts to advance NJEA members’ interests from now through the 2021 election. Those resources will cover member and public organizing, advertising, independent expenditure campaigns and other efforts needed to achieve victory.
The new Legislature needs to hear from NJEA members. Please take a few minutes now to remind your legislators that these issues are still our top priority. Ask them to support and sponsor our bills to achieve the job justice and Ch. 78 relief that you deserve through these links: